Anyone feel like the world of pageantry is starting to shift right before our very eyes???
I’ll admit – I don’t have finger on the pulse of each and every pageant in the country, but let’s see if we can hit a few of the highlights…
First, Donald Trump sells his stake in the Miss USA/Miss Universe program to the current ones, IMG/WME… Then, the whole Miss Universe/Steve Harvey ‘wrong winner announced’ nightmare… Then Miss America says local titleholders can longer compete at Miss Sweetheart (after 70 years)… Then Miss USA crowns someone who most people would say is a great choice – but a significant departure from the “type” of winner Miss USA usually crowns… And now – Miss Teen USA contestants will no longer be wearing swimsuits/bikinis – instead, they’re opting for “athletic wear”
I find it all FASCINATING!
What’s it all mean? Well – I’m not going to pretend like I have all the answers… But I do have a few thoughts. 🙂 First – if you want to read my thoughts on the new direction Miss USA is going in – click here…
And if you want someone to explain all the nuances behind who’s eligible for the National Sweetheart pageant and who’s not – click here… For the rest of this post, we’re gonna talk about Miss Teen USA…
Look – I get it. If I had a 14-16 year old daughter on national television parading around in an itsty-bitsy-teenie-weenie-yellow-polka-dot-bikini, I’d feel uncomfortable. I’d wonder what kind of message I was sending to her about growing up to be a strong woman. And I’d worry about who was watching her prance around in nearly nothing.
In that sense alone, I think this is a wise move. I’m not being prude – I’m being prudent.
However – (and call me cynical) – I don’t think that’s the sole purpose behind this decision.
You can call it “re-branding”
You can call it “a reflection of the culture”
You can even say it’s all about “the changing face of female power…”
But in my mind – the decision to remove the swimsuit portion of the Miss Teen USA pageant, is also about getting more contestants.
Now – Don’t get me wrong… Hear me out… I actually believe having more contestants is a very good thing! Think about it!
More contestants means more young women get to experience all the amazing benefits of pageantry! The personal growth, the development of courage and confidence, communication skills, stage presence, the ability to push yourself past what you think you’re capable of doing – These are all INCREDIBLE life-long skills and benefits learned from pageantry!
On top of that – more contestants means more parents get the chance to see what pageants do for their daughters and thus, they’re more likely to let go of any previous misconceptions about pageantry (plus tell their friends and neighbors). More contestants also means more people raising awareness and fundraising for the causes they love the most! And ultimately, more contestants means there will be a greater pool of ladies to choose from – which usually leads to stronger winners overall (iron sharpens iron).
However – let’s face it… If Millennials get even the slightest sense that the ultimate reason for more contestants is more money (greed) – They they’ll have a total hissy fit and quit!
Lucky for me – I don’t have serious issues with Capitalism (and this post is starting to veer off course in a hurry so let me bring it back…). In fact, I’m completely fine with more contestants, as long as the end result is one of two things…
First – As long as “more contestants” turns into “more money” which turns into “more scholarships” – or more prizes/opportunities for the winner/s, – Then I’m totally on board. I have NO PROBLEM with more money if it brings more sponsorships, more ticket sales, more incentive for a city to host a pageant (think more hotel rooms, more people eating at restaurants, more shopping, etc). If the end result is “more for the ladies who participate” then I’M ALL IN! No questions asked!
The second situation – Is if “more contestants” turns into “more REAL contestants” – then I’m totally on board as well. And by ‘real contestants’ I mean – I want to see ladies who don’t fit the pageant mold and aren’t penalized because of it. Ladies who have everything else it takes to be a fabulous national titleholder, except they don’t look like a freaking super model in a bikini. Ladies who have political beliefs that challenge the norm. Ladies who have the goods to change the world – as long as they aren’t required to change themselves for the pageant stage. If that’s the result of more contestants – then yeah… You had me at hello.
Only time will tell which direction pageants will fall… Even the best theories don’t mean a darn thing until they’re put into practice – and unfortunately, all the idealism in the world can’t make a payroll… But if this latest Miss Teen USA decision leads to less objectification and to more contestants, then it sounds pretty good to me.
Look – I’m not trying to set myself up as the ‘moral voice’ for pageantry. Not at all. But I do believe things are changing. And that means, young women today have the chance to define what a “modern” pageant titleholder looks like.
Pageants should be about being YOU. Not trying to fit into the mold of what someone else thinks a pageant winner should look like.
If athletic wear causes women to feel less objectified and more empowered – then let’s do it. If athletic wear causes more women to more confident in their own bodies and eliminates body shaming – then let’s do it. And if athletic wear propels women everywhere to embrace their bodies and actually believe that healthy is the new skinny – THEN LET’S DO IT.
However – If athletic wear is only for the powers that be to be able to turn a greater profit because more contestants are participating, then we might need to think again.
As for me and my Junkie-world, I’m going to choose to believe the former, not the latter. And while I might understand, respect and appreciate the latter – I’m not so sure this generation would.
To see more Thursday posts like this one, just click here…
Carrie Lakey is kind of obsessed with Miss America…
So are 16,000 of her closest friends.
As an avid fan of the Miss America Organization, Carrie began
publicly predicting pageant winners over 10 years ago.
Now, she’s galvanizing an online movement of fans
known as “Pageant Junkies”.
Learn more about the Junkie Nation
by clicking here.